The GOVERNOR of Nairobi Johnson Sakaja has found himself in trouble as some leaders claim that he has shied away from being responsible to the residents of the city and focused on trips abroad which are not profitable.
Mr Sakaja was not present when a gas explosion occurred in Mradi, Embakasi East, killing six people two weeks ago while more than 300 others were seriously injured. At the time he was on tour in South Africa and when he returned five days later, things had gone wrong.
It is alleged that some of his officers completely failed him in handling the tragedy. A day after the incident, his Deputy Njoroge Muchiri arrived at the scene of the disaster at least to confirm that the county leadership was with the victims. Two days before the explosion, there was another case of fire in the Juakali area on Landhies road. Commercial stalls were burned in the incident and Mr Sakaja was not there.
In addition, the performance of Mr. Sakaja has also been put in the balance as the residents of the city continue to lack water. The roads continue to be bad, the garbage collection system is broken, the drainage canals are blocked while there is also an unclear revenue collection system.
“Nairobi is among the counties that spend the most money on foreign and domestic travel. Personally, I have not seen the benefits of these visits because Mr Sakaja does not make them clear and as a Senator I cannot understand what has been achieved,” said Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna.
After the gas explosion occurred in Embakasi, activities to help those affected were led by the central government, the local MP Babu Owino, Mr Sifuna and the Red Cross. Kileleleshwa Councilor Robert Alai, claimed that the leadership of Nairobi County is at the hands of the central government and Mr Sakaja is a governor who has no influence.
Mr Sakaja, however, has defended his visits saying they have helped bring money and investors to the county.
“I got 1.4 million euros (Sh245 million) from Paris to fund a school nutrition program in Nairobi county. Do you know that I am the deputy chairman of the coalition of 40 cities (C40) on the fight against climate change under the chairmanship of the Mayor of the city of London, a status that has benefited Nairobi?” Governor Sakaja asked.
He dismissed claims that he is a hostage of the White House and has no say through the tax collection system. Political analyst Prof Gitile Naituli has blamed the citizens who elect the leaders for not monitoring them and putting them on the scale.
“Those who have been elected continue to create money. Going on foreign visits is accompanied by many travel privileges, even though some of them do not like to be seen in the county,” said Prof Naituli, an expert in management and leadership issues.
“There are some leaders who, even when they are not abroad, you cannot find them addressing the challenges of the people they represent in their counties,” he added.
Mr Sakaja’s predecessor, Mr Mike Sonko, was well known for appearing in various places in Nairobi, especially when residents were looking for help. Mr Sonko often met with citizens and even formed the ‘Sonko Rescue Team’ to help residents during disasters.